Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dontgonearthe Castle

I thought I would get right into Northanger Abbey and have difficulty getting through Sense & Sensibility, but NA is instead proving surprisingly hard to read (altho it did take a couple of days to begin S&S properly, too). I think part of it is what I disliked about Austen so much as a Bronte-mad teen -- she writes about the constrictions of society so well, the endless empty chatter about fashion, and the gossip, and being stuck with people you have nothing in common with inside for hours on end, that it just drove me nuts and I would escape back into Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

There was some of that constriction in S&S, to be sure, but it didn't feel quite as bad -- maybe it's because Catherine doesn't have a sister with her, and she seems permanently stuck in the goddamn pump-room. (Also, I had Marianne. Marianne! how I continue to adore her, always.) I know I read this in grad school (around 1994? //cough creak tap cane) and at least once since then -- only a few years ago in fact! -- but large swathes of it have just disappeared, which again is the opposite of what I expected with S&S -- passages of that started coming back to me as I read it, or at least I recognized them -- it's an odd feeling to describe, but sort of like recognizing your way home in a city, I think. ....Not so now. sigh.

I'm on chapter 5, Henry has disappeared, Isabella has just appeared, I want to drown Mrs Allen in a bucket and I think the best thing that could happen to Bath would be a neutron bomb. //grits teeth and reads on

-- Altho WAIT then I got to the great diatribe In Defense of Novels, which cheered me up. God, Jane is an intrusive narrator here. (She finished this before S&S, I think....? but then revised it) I think I'd do better with it as an audiobook, maybe.

Further thoughts:

- I know everyone loves him but good fucking God I can't stand Henry Tilney, he keeps patronizing Catherine

- the passages about books and reading are really good

- this goes a bit better if I picture Catherine as a kind of female Candide in muslin. A bit

- every time Isabella says something I want to scream, altho that's partly because she reminds me horribly of someone I used to know